I received the arc of Camelot in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Giles Kristian and Bantam Press for this chance.
An Arthurian tale that stands out from anything else I have read, with its haunting yet beautiful story. A story of love and loss. Of friendship and betrayal. A story of sacrifice. And one of hope.
Camelot is a historical version of the Arthurian tales that is the sequel to Lancelot, which along with The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell are my favourite Arthurian stories to date. And now, Camelot joins those esteemed ranks.
“We were few. We were the last. And we were going to war.”
Set soon after the Romans have left Britain and during the invasions of the Saxons, the Britons are on the edge of total annihilation. After facing defeat and betrayal, many of the brave heroes of Lancelot have fallen, leaving few old warriors beyond their prime still willing to fight for freedom. Defeat seems inevitable.
Amongst this, Galahad, son of the infamous yet widely despised Lancelot, has been raised as a monk in a monastery. Yet, destiny has other things set in store for him. Galahad was a character very different from Lancelot, but I thoroughly enjoyed his story as well. The conflict with the memory of his father that he and everyone else has was particularly interesting. This is a coming-of-age story that gripped me in an emotional journey.
“We are no army, but we are the beginning of an army. We are the flint and steel from which a hundred fires will be lit. A thousand fires.”
Now onto the wonderful prose of Giles Kristian. It is lyrical and poetic. Beautiful to read. I glided along this story so smoothly, carried from page to page effortlessly. He has a quality to immerse you into the world he has created and make you experience every subtle emotion that he paints with each word. One of my favourite writing styles I have had the pleasure to read.
Something that Giles Kristian in undoubtedly brilliant with is his action sequences. I learnt this when I read his Raven historical series, and also Lancelot. This is no different. Whether they be small scale skirmishes, guerrilla warfare, duels or all-out battles, each one is executed wonderfully. As a reader you experience the claustrophobic adrenaline rush of battle, the fear, the confusion of conflict, all whilst still comprehending what is taking place. Again, just brilliant.
“I am an old fool, but I know that a man so loved by some and hated by others must be a man who was true to his heart.”
Within Camelot, we get the pleasure of being reunited with some of our favourite characters of Lancelot, such as Gawain. But we also gain some wonderful and intricate new characters, such as Galahad himself and the fierce bow-wielding young woman Iselle, who is a master of stealth and hates the Saxon invaders. The interactions between characters are so realistic and develop in an emotional and believable manner, adding further to the connection to them and the story.
As I hope I have managed to get across, I loved this book. From the prose, to characters, to action sequences. Everything in this book is brilliant. That is partly due to my love for anything Arthurian, but it is also due to the intricate and powerful story Giles Kristian has magically created. I was so lucky to gain an early copy of Lancelot. Do yourself a favour and read Lancelot and then this!